Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Blathering on (again)

I seem to have given some of you the impression that I have toiled and toiled, doing Daywork my whole life, and have given it up only yesterday for the life of the pen. In the interest of honesty, I feel compelled to rectify these impressions.

I have worked mostly from home for the past three years. I am sometimes lured from my domicile by a nearby company, where I once ran the department in which I now occasionally serve. I didn't work out as the manager. I fought a lot with my superiors, and when I got tired of fighting, I became lax in fulfilling my obligations.

That is all water under the bridge.

GoodThomas suggested that I point out that I have never worked. This is also not true, and he better have been kidding when he said that.

As for the writing, I made a promise to myself last July to give this a legitimate shot. I hadn't written in paragraphs much for more than a decade before that. My promise took the form of a five-year plan, in which the goal for the first year was simply to write and write and not worry about publishing or anything else.

I felt I needed at least a year to to remember how to make words rub against one another in such a way as to cause meaning to spill forth.

I'm sure when my year is up, I shall feel I could really use another year to remember these things. I'm pretty sure I'll always be working on that particular problem.

I was considered a "natural" writer when I was in school, and somewhere in there, my teachers failed to impart to me any of the discipline I am now trying to create for myself. This is not the fault of the teachers, at whom I sneered and scoffed as much as I could get away with. I hardly ever completed the assignments they set in front of me. Where the fault lies with them, it is only that they did not fail me more often. The rest is all on me. I am well aware that I robbed myself of a pretty good education.

So now I set assignments for myself. I've been at least mediocre with my follow-through. I completed a novel in November as a participant in NaNoWriMo. Before that, I had no way of knowing if I could write about something and sustain even my own interest in a single set of characters and ideas for that many pages, for that long a time. While I am not exactly enamored with the output from that exercise, I do think that I learned a lot. Not the least of which is that I can, indeed, write a novel-length piece, however turgid and excruciating.

Completing the Daywork has me thinking about all of this all over again. Now is my time to write, to put my money where my mouth is, as it were. Or my something where my something else is.

I've been trying to reawaken my more playful mind, and am giving myself a week to decompress before I start expecting any sort of real output on the novel.

But, listen: I wrote a short story today. It is bad, but it is a first draft. First drafts do not need to sparkle. I hadn't really intended to do even this much, but I'm happy I did.

In my adult life, I have been an actor, a musician, a graphic artist and many other things. I was even an accountant. I have expressed myself creativity since I can remember.

I finally stopped acting about seven years ago, because my band had become infinitely more interesting to me. I stopped being in a band because it had started to feel like Dayworking. Writing is my Last Big Dream, and the only one I have never really followed. It is also the one in which I can most easily see where I am succeeding and where I am failing. Each art I have discarded (I don't think I've really discarded any of them forever) has been in pursuit of the more challenging option at the time.

There is nothing more challenging, to my mind, than grabbing a stranger and making him or her feel things with nothing more than the alphabet. To take someone on a ride with such meager tools is an accomplishment indeed, and I salute all of the writers who have taken me on such journeys. This list will undoubtedly include some of you Blogreaders, those of you with blogs, anyway. I had thought blogs were a bit silly right up to (and a little past) the point where I started one myself as a writing exercise. Thank you for proving me wrong.

See how quickly I lose the point? I came here to tell you that I was only a Dayworker for about three months this time, and all my crowing about being unshackled and free may as well be the sound of the wind blowing. My present circumstances and freedom to write are merely the product of circumstance and luck, whose unwitting pawn I shall ever be.

11 comments:

Susan Abraham said...

Hi Maht,
I never got the impression that you were toiling at a dayjob. Not at all! But that you were impatient to start writing creatively without having to worry about time? That, yes! I'm excited for you actually. How wonderful...a year just to write. :-)

Ms Baroque said...

Maht, I think that sounds great. I think the discipline you are now imposing on yourself is something that would always have had to come from you, not your teachers.

It's interesting, though: I was also known throughout my childhood for being able to write, & the thing that let me down (if that's what you can call it) was when I started asking people for technical advice - is this working, what about the plot, what about the characters, but is it really good - and they all just went, oh yes it's lovely! Strangely, my confidence suffered a lot from that. It was like a smokescreen.

I'm sure this is a common experience. Because suburban high school teachers probably aren't geared up for that...

In other words: GO MAHT!

liz fenwick said...

"There is nothing more challenging, to my mind, than grabbing a stranger and making him or her feel things with nothing more than the alphabet. To take someone on a ride with such meager tools is an accomplishment indeed, and I salute all of the writers who have taken me on such journeys."

Too true .....may I quote in my blog? Those definately hit home with me :-)

Katie said...

I used to think blogs were a bit silly also, but I've found that keeping one forces me to write every day (definitely a good thing). Plus it keeps me entertained when I'm supposed to be working.

goodthomas said...

Mean Tappling - Did I say that? Well, if I did, then of course I was kidding.

Freedom is freedom, no matter how you slice it.

You work visually. Be it in the combination of words or a black & white digital composition, the strumming a guitar or finding flight onstage. You have that soul.

Please keep writing, keep taking photographs, keep making us all laugh. And please send off your novel to some publishers. Please.

The Moon Topples said...

Susan: First again! Your Malaysian time zone probably helps, though. The "year of writing" is three-quarters over, though. Then I really need to start submitting things.

Ms. B: I agree about discipline needing to come from within, at least for me. I bristle when others try to enforce such things upon me. And I know exactly what you mean about confidence suffering from vague praise.

Liz: Of course you can quote me if you like. I'm glad you found something to carry home. And so long as it is attributed, it's wholly within the confines of the Creative Commons license for this blog.

Katie: It was the writing everyday that lured me in. I never expected to find it so addictive or socially interactive, though.

The Moon Topples said...

GT: Nice of you to sneak in while I was talking to the others.

You flatter me, Mid-level Thomas. And I knew you were kidding.

Since you've requested so nicely that I do so, I suppose I shall keep writing and taking photographs...for now. But only because you asked me to.

As for publishers: I'm pretty sure they'd want me to finish the novel first. That seems to be one of their rules.

Reading the Signs said...

The point is, at this point, to keep losing the point in order to arrive at the point that is the point you feel yourself pointed to. Do you get my point?

Lovely post, Mr. Moon. Nice points.

I'll shut up now.

The Moon Topples said...

RTS: You may have a point.

briliantdonkey said...

Another interesting post with which I can seriously relate to. I started my blog right about a year ago myself. Like you I thought it to be fairly silly and couldn't get the word 'diary' to not pop into my mind everytime I heard 'blog'. I decided to give it a shot though after reading 'on writing' by Stephen King. One of his big points in the book is to quit 'thinking about writing and WRITE' everyday, to a certain number. I don't reach that number everyday, but I have reached it often enough to know that whether the results are good or bad I DO enjoy it enough to keep at it. If something DOES come of it so be it. If not, I can handle that as well. I did my own NANoWRIMO shortly after starting the blog. Safe to say the result was crap, but it is crap that I kept. Crap that I still intend to go back and fix up someday, and crap that I AM still proud of none the less

BD

The Moon Topples said...

BD: You are luckier than me, in that my NaNo piece is largely a carcass I hope I can scrape through in order to salvage a few short stories.

Still very glad I did it, though.